7 Essential Tips for Making the Best Charcuterie Board

Pics or it didn't happen.

A good charcuterie board is party magic: It's fun to look at and to eat, easy to assemble and, once you put together a good one, you're set on appetizers. Side benefit: A pretty charcuterie platter always racks up the likes on Instagram, and it pairs with wine!

Here's everything you need to know to put together a perfect one.

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Stock up on a solid selection.

When shopping for a charcuterie board, look for three to five different types of meats. As with a cheese board, mix up the colors, textures, and flavors: Spicy coppa, buttery prosciutto, a salty dry-cured sausage like finochietta, and beefy bresaola make a good selection. Look near the cheese section for whole dried sausages and pre-sliced meats in plastic trays, or hit up the deli counter.

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But only buy what you need.

Cured meats can get expensive, and there's no need to go overboard in buying. Aim for about two ounces of meat per person.

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The slice is right.

Since cured meats are often rich and salty, ask the person at the counter to slice the meat as thinly as possible. If you have a whole dried sausage, cut at least one third of it before you place it on the board, and position a paring knife nearby for guests to finish the job.

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Pick the perfect sides.

Accompaniments make charcuterie look and taste even better, so pick up some nuts, dried or fresh fruit, olives, or pickles; plus one or two sauces like mustard, honey, or tapenade. And don't forget bread and crackers!

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Consider your serving strategy.

Now you're ready to build! Use something large and flat as a base: A wooden or slate board provides a nice contrast with the color of the meat, though you could also use a platter or large plate. Add one or two small bowls for your accompaniments and sauces to add visual interest plus flavor.

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Consider the composition.

To start, arrange your small bowls off-center, and place the meat and accompaniments around them. As you work, think about the overall look: Place non-meaty elements like crackers, fruit, and nuts between the various kinds of charcuterie, and change up the look of the meat itself. Gently gather individual slices of prosciutto to create easy-to-eat bundles, fold big slices of salami into quarters, and fan out smaller slices of sliced charcuterie.

RELATED: You've Been Serving Champagne All Wrong—Here's How to Do It Right

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Prep it in advance.

Don't be afraid to make this a few hours before your party—just cover with plastic and refrigerate until you're ready to serve. Longer than a few hours though, and the meat might start to dry out. Hold off adding fruit that might brown (like apples or pears) until just before serving.

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